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Marlins win

Alcantara Dominates, Leads to Marlins Win on Opening Day

The Miami Marlins hadn’t won on Opening Day since 2014. The last time they did, Jose Fernandez took the mound for Miami and struck out nine Rockies en route to a 10-1 win. For the 2020 season, Sandy Alcantara toed the rubber, becoming the youngest Opening Day starter for Miami since Fernandez. His seven strikeouts were also the most since Fernandez’s nine in 2014. Alcantara’s performance helped spur the Marlins win.

Alcantara entered the game with a 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA versus the Phillies, including a 2-0 mark with a 1.32 ERA at Citizens Bank Park. He’s a breakout candidate for the Marlins this season and his performance on Friday showed why.

Over 6.2 innings pitched, Alcantara posted seven strikeouts, surrendering just three hits, two walks and one earned run. He induced seven ground-ball outs including one double play. He relied mostly on a fastball-changeup-slider combination and kept hitters off balance all night.

Alcantara particularly flummoxed the middle of Philadelphia’s lineup. He dominated Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, keeping them 0-for-8 with four strikeouts and just one walk.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly pulled Alcantara from the game in the seventh after 87 total pitches.

“I was ready [to finish it],” Alcantara said after the Marlins win. “I see [Mattingly come to the mound] and I’m thinking ‘Oh my God. I’m done, but I don’t want to give him the ball. I want to be on the mound.’ But I respect his decision.”

“His stuff is overpowering, when he stays aggressive and attacks the strike zone,” Mattingly said. “Then we were able to get him some runs, which takes the pressure off and gives us some breathing room.”

New Additions Contributed to Marlins Wins as well

The breathing room for Alcantara came thanks to the Marlins offseason additions. Jonathan Villar‘s sac-fly in the third inning drove in the first run of the year for Miami. Then Jesus Aguilar broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning when he deposited an 0-2 breaking ball from Aaron Nola 409 feet away in left-center.

Corey Dickerson helped chase Nola from the game when he lined a double to right field three pitches later. Dickerson finished the game 2-for-4, scoring a run on a wild pitch in the sixth.

Francisco Cervelli, subbing in for Jorge Alfaro who landed on the 10-day IL prior to the game, played well, too. He registered the first hit and scored the first run of the year. Cervelli finished 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored. He called an excellent game for Alcantara.

The addition of the DH to the National League also paid dividends for the Marlins. In what would have been the pitcher’s spot, Miguel Rojas went 2-for-3 with a walk, stolen base and run scored. Garrett Cooper manned the DH spot went 1-for-4 with a two-out RBI double in the sixth inning.

“It’s good to get on the board,” Mattingly said of the Marlins win. “Feels like a big win, to be honest with you.”

The Marlins are back at it this afternoon at 4:05 PM. Caleb Smith starts for Miami versus Zack Wheeler. Smith was 10-11 with a 4.52 ERA and 168 K in 2019. He surrendered 33 HRs, which is something he’ll need to improve upon in 2020. In four career starts versus the Phillies, Smith is 1-2 4.50 ERA with 19 K over 18 innings pitched.

Marlins breakout candidates

5 Marlins Breakout Candidates for 2020

For the Miami Marlins, the 2020 season arrives with new faces and renewed hope. While not the normal spring beginning by any means, this optimism feels real and is largely tied to a number of potential Marlins breakout candidates.

The 2020 MLB season arrived last night in rainy Washington, D.C. For the Marlins, they’re a few hours north in Philadelphia awaiting their first tilt of the truncated season. The landscape of MLB transformed this year thanks to COVID-19, new rules and an eleventh-hour agreement to expand the playoffs. Everyone has a chance, and for Miami, their opportunity to break a 17-year postseason drought could be decided by a handful of players.

So here’s a look at five Marlins breakout candidates for the 2020 season.

Marlins Breakout Candidates: Sandy Alcantara

Miami’s Opening Day starter is 24-year-old Sandy Alcantara. A first-time all-star in 2019, Alcantara finished 6-14 with a 3.88 ERA, 151 strikeouts, 81 walks and two complete-game shutouts. His best work came over an 11-game stretch to end the season. Over his final 74.1 innings, Alcantara posted a 2.74 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 62 strikeouts. He hit seven innings in seven of his last 11 starts.

“I think that’s the biggest thing in my life, being the Opening Day starter. I feel great about that,” Alcantara said. “I’m ready to go.”

In 2019, Alcantara went 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA versus Philadelphia. He sports a five-pitch arsenal which includes a solid fastball-sinker-slider combo. His changeup and curve are weapons versus lefties.

“His stuff is as good as anyone,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said recently. “I don’t care who you want to put out there. His stuff is as good as anyone’s.”

For the Marlins, if Alcantara can ascend to top-line starter level, the 2020 season will be a success.

“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people,” Alcantara said. “They want me to be a leader. That’s what I’m trying to do. Keep preparing myself. Keep getting better. Become an ace.”

Marlins Breakout Candidates: Pablo Lopez

If the Marlins are going to contend for a playoff spot, they’ll need Pablo Lopez to make a leap. In 2019, Lopez sported a 4.23 ERA through mid-June, allowing four earned-runs or less in 13 of his 14 starts. But after he went down with strained right shoulder, he wasn’t the same pitcher.

Marlins pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. has been impressed by Lopez throughout the spring and summer, particularly considering the tragic passing of Lopez’s father recently. He said Lopez is the pitcher he’s “most excited about.” And Lopez has worked tirelessly to develop his game, adding a cutter to his arsenal, which already includes a top-level changeup.

Following an impressive performance during a simulated game last Thursday, Mattingly noted that it was “the best I’ve ever seen Pablo look as far as being that aggressive guy.”

Lopez also looked good against the Braves. He dispatched Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman on six pitches in the first inning of that game. Lopez will start the home opener versus the Baltimore Orioles next week.

Starting him in Marlins Park is a nod to Lopez’s struggles on the road in 2019, where he went 2-5 with a 7.36 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. At home, Lopez was much better, going 3-3 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.

Marlins Breakout Candidates: Isan Díaz

The hype surrounding Isan Díaz seemed well worth it when he took Jacob DeGrom deep in his MLB debut. That memorable moment, though, was followed by uncharacteristic struggles at the plate for the 24-year-old. Díaz finished his first year in the Majors with a .173 batting average, five home runs and 23 RBI.

“There were a lot of things going on mentally,” Díaz said of the struggles. “I wasn’t allowing my ability to evolve in the game. Those are things that happen.

“I had a great group of guys here who told me to take it as a learning curve and come back ready for next year,” he said. “Here we are for this 2020 season and already there’s a big difference with how I’m mentally feeling and how I’m going at this. I think that last year’s failure actually is going to help me for this year.”

Mattingly sees Díaz as the team’s second baseman now and of the future. He said Díaz’s “track record show that he’s gonna hit.”

Díaz should find the addition of new bench coach/offensive coordinator James Rowson hugely beneficial. Díaz has raw power but was too patient as a rookie, falling behind often. He’s already demonstrated strides at the plate in the exhibitions versus Atlanta. Although he only had one hit and one walk, there were productive at-bats.

Marlins Breakout Candidates: Jorge Alfaro

The player who could enjoy the most gains from the addition of Rowson is Jorge Alfaro. The 27-year-old catcher flashed his potential with the bat in 2019, connecting on 18 home runs, 14 doubles and 57 RBI. What hurt Alfaro was a 38.4-percent swing-and-miss rate, a 48-percent chase rate and a 33.1-percent strikeout rate.

Rowson says he wants Marlins hitters to take “swings to do damage,” and Alfaro can certainly do that. He sported a 44.8 percent hard-hit rate (a ball with an exit velocity of at least 95 mph) last season.

Alfaro demonstrated the new aggressive approach on Tuesday when he punched the first pitch he saw over the leftfield fence at Truist Park. In the two games, Alfaro went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBI.

He’ll also need to improve defensively. Alfaro posted the fourth-most errors by a catcher (11) and the third-most passed balls (11). He’ll be mentored this year by Francisco Cervelli, who’s well known for his defensive acumen.

Marlins Breakout Candidates: Brian Anderson

Although the Marlins added higher profile names to their lineup (Jesus Aguilar, Corey Dickersonand Jonathan Villar), Brian Anderson remains a key component to this offense. Anderson’s second year ended in August after a hit-by-pitch fractured his left hand. He slashed .261/.341/.468 with 20 home runs, 33 doubles and 66 RBI.

“I think he’s been getting better and better,” Mattingly said. “I think he’s got all the attributes. I’ve talked about him a lot from the standpoint of he sees the ball good and controls the strike zone. He’s got a good swing. He uses the whole field. Everything’s there in place.”

Anderson does have the tendency to get frustrated at the plate, evidenced by his 0-for-4 performance in the first exhibition versus the Braves. But Anderson bounced back with a solid 2-for-3 outing, including a double and run scored.

Adding Villar, Dickerson and Aguilar around Anderson should also provide the 27-year-old third baseman with lineup protection he’s never received in Miami.

“Those types of guys are definitely gonna make our lineup just more well-rounded and just tougher to pitch to,” Anderson said. “For me, I’m hoping that means I get more pitches to hit. It’s my job to make sure that I get those good pitches and I hit them.”

Recent reports indicate that Miami and Anderson have discussed a long-term contract extension.

“They’ve obviously given me an incredible opportunity here so I would love to stay here,” said Anderson, who the Marlins drafted in 2014 (third round).

“I love the direction that we’re going. I love getting to hear Derek talk about expecting to win,” he said. “That’s something that can grow and build and we can start making something special here.”

How to Watch, Bet the 60-Game Baseball Season

Since its inception in 1903, the Major League Baseball is the home to some of the best baseball players in the world. The last few seasons have been extremely interesting and the new season has some changes which are worth looking at since they might be confusing to some fans.

We are going to discuss this topic into detail and give you an insight into the shortened 60-game season, the biggest favorites, and share some interesting intel on betting. As you may know, many baseball fans are more than happy to place a bet or two and we are going to provide you with the best platform for betting. After all, sports and betting are separate industries that always went side by side.

Betting With Online Bookies

There are plenty of baseball betting lines that you should check out. The odds are great and you might end up with a nice prize. Even though some people prefer to place their bets in land-based bookies, a new and revolutionizing way has become popular in the last few years.

Online bookies are favored by millions of people around the world. The reason for that is that they have numerous advantages over the land-based bookies. They are available at any time and place, offer better odds and rewards, and most importantly – they are far more efficient.

We all know that in sports, placing bets fast, especially with live betting, is important. And since baseball is one of the sports where each second matters, placing bets at online bookies is a far greater option than walking to a land-based sportsbook. But, there are some rules that you need to know about sports betting, so make sure you check them out.

Now, let’s see what the shortened MLB season has to offer us.

When Does it Start and How Will it Work?

The MLB season starts on July 23 with a split Opening Day. The Yankees will face the Nationals, while the Dodgers will face the Dodgers. The rest of the schedule is still unknown, but there are some games scheduled on July 24.

Each team will play 60 games – 40 of them will be against their division rivals and 20 interleague games. The 2020 MLB All-Star Game is sadly cancelled, but the next game will take place at Truist Park in Atlanta (2021). 

Rosters will be different and some rule changes will be implemented. The new rule which allows position players to pitch in certain situations is abandoned. Games that are stopped due to rain before the fifth inning will be considered as suspended. The National League will have a designated hitter and extra innings will begin with a runner on the second base to reduce the chances of long games.

Even though the whole situation is new and it looks challenging, some quirks will come out. Teams won’t have to travel as much as before, the season ends with seven Interleague series, and some of the monotony will be lifted. Some of the games that were standard for over a century in the League will not take place. 

Many teams will have some benefits with the way this season is scheduled, which is why we are excited to see what the outcome will be.


The Biggest Favorites

Minnesota Twins are the biggest favorites to win the American League Central. The Yankees are the number 1 team in the American League East, while Houston Astros are considered as favorites in the American League West. 

As far as the World Series, The New York Yankees top the list of biggest favorites to win it. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros are ranked second and third. Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins conclude the top 5 list. But, there are some teams that are worth watching. One of those are the Miami Marlins.

Why Did The Deal Came So Late?

The reason why the solution for a shortened season came so late is that the MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association were unable to make an agreement in May and July. The MLB owners drafted the first plan in mid-May and it featured a schedule of 82 games with no fans in the attendance.

MLBPA countered with another proposal, which was unacceptable for the MLB and the negotiations went on and on. During the end of June, the 60-game plan was finally voted unanimously and players reported to training camps on July 1. The plan was released on July 6 and slight changes were implemented in order to cut costs on the teams.

All in all, we are in for a treat. Although the start of the season might be a bit slow and teams will need a bit time to adjust to the changes in the rules, we do not doubt that the level of excitement will be no less than the previous seasons. 

Marlins Players

5 Marlins Players to Know for 2020

The Miami Marlins have finished their summer camp training this week and are in Atlanta for a pair of exhibition games. The two contests versus the Braves will be the finial tune ups for the 60-game season sprint, which starts Friday. New Marlins players and roster holdovers alike are competing for spots on the roster.

The Marlins will travel with 41 players to Atlanta but will need to pare down to 30 for Opening Day. The unique nature of this season could see roster changes happening regularly. So even if a player doesn’t initially make the team, ala Jordan Yamamoto, they could play a role later in the season.

For Opening Day, the Marlins will be in Philadelphia. According to SportsBettingDime.com’s odds page, Miami enters the game as an underdog versus the Phillies. Sandy Alcantara will toe the rubber for the Marlins to start the year, but there’s still some uncertainty regarding the rest of the roster.

With that in mind, here’s a look at five under-the-radar Marlins players who could play a role in 2020.

Marlins Players to Know: Jordan Holloway

Jordan Holloway has been something of a surprise during summer camp. The 24-year-old right-hander comes in as the No. 20 prospect for the Marlins according to MLBPipeline. At 6-foot-6, Holloway stands as an imposing figure on the mound and has found success working at Marlins Park this summer.

“What he’s done in a couple of outings here has been pleasantly surprising and has put him kind of in the mix,” Marlins pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. said. “We have to stay open-minded. We’re going to be able to expand our roster, and there are going to be some guys that are given an opportunity that maybe in a regular season wouldn’t have been given that opportunity.”

Holloway boasts a fastball that touches triple-digits and sports an above-average curveball. Also, he’s fully healthy after a 2017 Tommy John surgery.

Stottlemyre said Holloway is “probably the nastiest guy we have in our bullpen.”

Holloway’s electric stuff and three-quarter delivery could make him a viable option in the bullpen, despite his starter pedigree. The major point of emphasis for him, though, will be command. Holloway walked 66 batters over 95 innings at Single-A Jupiter in 2019.

Marlins Player to Know: Alex Vesia

Another electric arm who could help in the ‘pen in 2020 is Alex Vesia. Listed as the No. 24 overall prospect for the Marlins by MLBPipeline, Vesia posted a 1.62 ERA with 138 strikeouts over 100 innings while advancing to Double-A over his last two seasons. He finished 2019 on a 35-inning scoreless streak and pitched six scoreless innings this spring. At 24-years-old, the lefty reliever has turned heads with his work this summer.

“Everywhere he went he had success,” Don Mattingly said of Vesia. Miami’s manager went on to say Vesia has “pitched with confidence” and “has some moxie about him,” noting “[h]e’s on the attack; he’s not afraid; he’s a strike thrower.”

Vesia’s fastball flies at 92-95 mph and touches 97. His deceptive delivery and high spin-rate gets on hitters quickly, helping those strikeout numbers.

The Marlins are limited with left-handed relievers and Vesia is the highest-rated lefty prospect in Miami’s system. If he can consistently throw strikes, the rookie could find himself pitching meaningful innings in 2020.

Marlins Player to Know: Nick Neidert

When the Marlins optioned Yamamoto to Jupiter, most assumed Elieser Hernandez had won the fifth starter competition. While that may ultimately prove to be true, one of the names still in the running is Nick Neidert.

The 23-year-old righty stands as the Marlins No. 10 overall prospect according to MLBPipeline. And throughout the summer, Mattingly hasn’t hesitated to throw Neidert into the mix for the 2020 roster. He said he’s in a “position to stay.”

In five minor league seasons, Neidert sports a 3.20 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and an 8.1 K/9 rate over 460.2 innings pitched. He features a 90-93 mph sinking fastball that pounds the bottom of the zone. His deceptive delivery can fool hitters and he was sharp in the Arizona Fall League.

Over six innings this spring, Neidert gave up just one earned run. He’s been up-and-down in recent intrasquad games and could ultimately slot in as a long reliever or piggyback option out of the bullpen.

Marlins Player to Know: Eddy Alvarez

The Marlins’ bench seems set, but local product Eddy Alvarez continues to make a late push for the 30-man roster. The 30-year-old Miami native and Columbus High graduate seeks to make his Major League debut in 2020, which would add to a resume that includes a 2014 Winter Olympics silver medal in speedskating.

Alvarez is a roster wildcard. He’s another player with positional versatility and he’s a switch hitter. At the Triple-A level in 2019, Alvarez hit .323 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI over 66 games.

“I like the kid,” Mattingly said of Alvarez. “I think he’s got a chance to help us depending on what happens during this this camp.”

Should Alvarez make the team, the Marlins would have to make a roster move, as he’s not currently on the 40-man roster.

“We’re pieces of the puzzle,” Alvarez said in March. “If I fit in a certain algorithm, then it’ll be time for me to go. It’s tough as a baseball player, it really is, not knowing much, but you just have to play.”

Marlins Players to Know: Magneuris Sierra

One of the decisions the Marlins must decide in the next few days is what to do with Magneuris Sierra. The big hitch in this question is the fact that Sierra is out of minor-league options. Should the team elect not to put Sierra on the Opening Day roster, he would have to pass through waivers before being reassigned within the organization.

Sierra’s best weapon is his speed. The 24-year-old should serve as Miami’s top pinch-running option this season after he stole 36 bases in 50 attempts in 2019. Working in his favor in the 60-game season are the expanded rosters and the new extra-innings rule.

“We think there is a role for a guy who can steal a bag on this club right now,” Mattingly said. “You’ll see teams in pennant races going down the stretch [looking for speed].”

For the 2020 season, MLB has implemented a new rule for extra innings: each half-inning will start with a runner on second base.

“That creates a different role, not just for him, but a few other guys as well,” Mattingly said of for Sierra, who can also be used as a defensive replacement.

Sierra, a left-handed hitter, also showed strides at the plate in limited action with the Marlins in 2019. He hit .350 over 40 at-bats. He has eight stolen bases (in 15 attempts) over his 91 MLB career games.

Marlins 2020 roster

5 Predictions for the Miami Marlins 2020 Roster

Miami named Sandy Alcantara the Opening Day starter earlier this week, answering one of the big questions for the Marlins 2020 roster.

Alcantara’s final 11 starts of the 2019 season, coupled with an impressive spring/summer, has propelled the 24-year-old to the front of the rotation. Spots 2-4 will likely feature Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez and Jose Urena in some order.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly has mentioned the 30-man roster will be pitcher-heavy. He’s considering carrying as many as 17 hurlers to Philadelphia to open the season. That leaves 13 slots for position players on the 30-man set.

The Marlins won’t fully cut down their roster until after the two exhibition games in Atlanta next week. With that in mind, here are five predictions for the Marlins 2020 roster come July 24th.

Miami Marlins 2020 Roster – Fifth Starter Prediction

For the fifth starter, there’s a four-man race. Jordan Yamamoto, Elieser Hernandez and Robert Dugger all have Major League experience, whereas Nick Neidert would be making his MLB debut if he’s it.

The prediction for Opening Day is Yamamoto. Yams tossed back-to-back seven-inning shutouts to open his MLB career. In 2019, he made 15 starts and threw 78.2 innings, posting a 4.46 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 82 strikeouts. He’ll need to improve upon his 4.1 BB/9 and 1.3 HR/9 rates, but his track record in the minors indicates he will.

For the others, Hernandez and Dugger can both transition to the bullpen. Neidert probably won’t break camp with the club, but he could be the first pitcher called up should the rotation suffer injuries.

Bullpen Prediction

If Yamamoto takes the 5-spot, Hernandez and Dugger likely land in the bullpen as long relievers. Mattingly has mentioned the possibility of a piggyback with the fifth starter, and both of those pitchers could fill that role.

The Marlins turned over much of their terrible bullpen from 2019. Free agent additions Brandon Kintzler and Yimi Garcia should be backend staples, with Kintzler taking the closer role. Non-roster invitee Brad Boxberger stands as another veteran option with closing experience.

Adam Conley, Sterling Sharp, Ryne Stanek and Drew Steckenrider also seem like locks.

Predicting the final three arms for the ‘pen: Jeff Brigham (if he’s fully healthy), rookie Alex Vesia and Nick Vincent.

Brigham didn’t pitch in the spring thanks to a right bicep injury, but he sports maybe the best slider on the staff. Vesia has impressed and consistently thrown strikes. Mattingly called Vincent an “experienced, strike-throwing veteran,” which is key.

Should Brigham’s injury linger, look for Aaron Northcraft (or Josh Smith) to take his spot. If Mattingly wants a third left-handed reliever, he may swap Vincent for Stephen Tarpley, who Miami acquired via trade from the Yankees in January.

Dark horse options include prospects Jordan Holloway and Jorge Guzman. Both are starters, but they’ve impressed during camp and could be bullpen arms if need be.

Outfield Prediction

The unfortunate reality is that the Marlins are missing two outfielders who, in spring, figured to play significant roles. Matt Joyce and Lewis Brinson would have competed for right and center field respectively. Pulling those two from the competition simplified Mattingly’s decision making.

The prediction for the starting outfield on Opening Day is: Corey Dickerson in left, Jonathan Villar in center and Harold Ramirez in right. Monte Harrison will make the team and rotate between center and right. Garrett Cooper will see time in right and as DH.

While Ramirez is aided by Joyce’s absence, Mattingly called him “the most impressive overall” of the right field candidates. “He’s a guy people don’t give as much credit to. He’s been working hard in the outfield to get better.”

Magneuris Sierra, who is out of minor league options, should also make the team. His versatility, speed and defensive acumen carve out a role for him early, though he could be replaced once Joyce returns. He could also be among the cuts when the team pares down from 30 players to 28 and 26.

“Mags is a guy that we continue to see develop,” Mattingly said. He envisions Sierra as someone who can “[s]teal a bag, [be a] defensive replacement, you’ve got the 10th inning-type thing. There’re some scenarios in this type of setting. That creates a different role.”

Mattingly did say recently that both Joyce and Brinson will have a chance to play this year and that both players are optimistic and upbeat. Their delay makes the first few weeks of the season important for both Sierra and Harrison if they want to stick with the club.

Prospect Jesus Sanchez could find a role on the big club as well, if Mattingly wants a left-handed bat with pop off the bench.

Infield Prediction

The Marlins 2020 roster along the infield has been fairly set since the offseason. Holdovers from 2019 include Jorge Alfaro, Isan Diaz and Miguel Rojas. Offseason addition Jesus Aguilar remains the odds-on favorite for first base. And Brian Anderson seems poised to retake his regular role at third.

Cooper will spell Aguilar at first from time to time, and super utility Jon Berti can plug the other holes. Villar will likely spend some time cycling through middle infield spots in addition to centerfield.

For Diaz, the start to the season is particularly important. Mattingly has called Diaz “the guy” and “the second baseman of the future” but the presence of Villar should keep pressure on him to produce. His minor league track record indicates he’ll hit.

New bench coach James Rowson said he’s been impressed by Diaz. “I love the swing. He does a lot of things that work well.”

Should Aguilar struggle out the gate, first base prospect Lewin Diaz might get an early call-up. He’s a powerful, sweet-swinging lefty who’ll be a mainstay in the lineup for years to come.

Local product Eddy Alvarez, a switch-hitting utilityman, could find a role should injuries pile up.

Miami Marlins 2020 Roster – Rotating Positions

The final prediction for the Marlins 2020 roster is that there will be rotating positions. With this group, there’s fluid nature to the lineup. GM Mike Hill has assembled a group of players who can play multiple positions, and this versatility affords Mattingly the flexibility to shuffle players based on matchup and who’s hot.

Lineup fixtures like Villar, Cooper, Rojas, Ramirez and Anderson can bounce around the diamond and outfield. The addition of the designated hitter to the NL gives Mattingly another bat, and multiple players can fill that role as well.

Even the construction of the bench should feature players who can be deployed across a number of spots. Berti can play all over. Sierra can man each outfield position. Same for Harrison.

The ability for the roster to rotate positions means Mattingly can optimize the lineup card almost every day.

Lehigh pitcher Matt Svanson shutting out the SFCBL

There is clearly a big difference between what Lehigh saw out of Matt Svanson and what the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League is seeing.

At Lehigh, Svanson has a 6.51 ERA in 25 total appearances, 10 of which were starts. This spring, he started all four games but recorded a 7.77 ERA.

In five starts with the West Boca Snappers, Svanson has an ERA of 0.00 and his last two starts saw him strike out eight batters. Svanson’s arsenal features a sinker, slider and changeup mix. His sinker is  his first pitch which is aimed for ground ball outs and his slider is his strikeout pitch. 

Much of his performance has been credited to his head coach and former Miami Marlins minor league pitcher, Riley MacEachern.

“Riley’s been awesome,” Svanson said. “Because he’s a former pro player, he is so well with mechanics and be able to communicate with me. We have a pretty good relationship for the most part. Whenever I have an issue on the mound, he’s able to self-correct me.”

MacEachern was drafted in the 33rd round by the Marlins out of Stony Brook in 2015 and spent thre as a reliever going as far as Single-A Greensboro.

According to MacEachern, it didn’t take much to unlock Svanson’s potential.

“He had it the whole time,” MacEachern said, “just needed to get him to gain that confidence.”

Svanson was originally slated to pitch in the Cape Cod League but it got canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So instead he was recruited by MacEachern to pitch for the Snappers and now they are on top of the South Division with a five game lead.

Svanson is not alone in the SFCBL. There are two other Lehigh pitchers and first baseman Charlie Von Werne are also with him in the league. Luke Rettig has a 1.89 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 19 innings over five games with the Palm Beach Diamond Ducks and Mason Black has 25 strikeouts in 18 innings and an ERA of 1.00 in five starts.

“We push each other all the time, Svanson said. “We want to be No. 1 going into next year and it’s a battle every time. Obviously what matters to us is we win three games each weekend but but right here want to go and see each other absolutely dominate.”

The season runs through July 30 followed by the playoffs. As it currently stands, it looks like there could be a matchup between Rettig and Svanson for the title.

Justin Alintoff graduates from Gators‘ reliever to starter in Rollins

Sometimes it’s crazy how quickly things can change within a year. The Florida Gators started the 2020 season 16-0. Justin Alintoff was contributing to a bullpen that posted a 1.76 ERA with 12 strikeouts in five appearances.

They lose their first game of the season to Florida State on March 10 and the next day the entire spring slate has been cancelled.

“It was a real bummer,” Alintoff said.

Now Alintoff is in the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League working time go from reliever to starting pitcher with the Delray Beach Lightning. This is all in preparation for his final chapter as a college pitcher, not in Florida, but in Rollins.

“I could have gone back to Florida but I’m getting an MBA at Rollins College,” Alintoff said. “I value my education greatly.”

Justin Alintoff Transition to Starter

So far the transition to starter has gone well. Alintoff is 3-0 with a 1.28 ERA and 12 strikeouts in five games and four starts. His longest start came on Thursday against the Palm Beach Xtreme where he allowed only one run on four hits in four innings.

He leads the Lightning in starts and ERA, which is a big reason why Delray Beach (13-7) is only a game behind the Palm Beach Diamond Ducks (14-6) in the North Division.

While there are instances in which Alintoff finds himself facing off an Arkansas hitter, a Georgia hitter or one of the handful of LSU hitters prowling in the league, the overall summer ball competition doesn’t make up for the erased spring slate.

“The SEC is a beast of its own,” Alintoff said. “I don’t think there really is too much to compare in those regards. They’re two different intensities. Spring ball is way more intense than summer ball.

“In terms of the players, we have a great group of guys (in the SFCBL), really talented guys and same as the SEC. But the SEC is a grind every game.”

Alintoff Leaning on His Experience

Alintoff made a total of 21 appearances out of the bullpen for Florida as a sophomore and junior. He totaled 37 strikeouts in 39 innings. He credits the rigors of the SEC for setting him up for summer success.

“There’s no rest,” Alintoff said. “The teams in the bottom of the standings can come out and whoop butt. So the SEC is an animal and it has prepared me greatly for this league.”

Alintoff was originally a starting pitcher at Indian Hill Community College. He posted a 4.11 ERA in 57.0 innings with 77 strikeouts during his freshman year.

The SFCBL season runs through July 30 followed by the playoffs. Led by Alintoff as the anchor of the staff, a league title would be a great way to complete the transformation.

SFCBL title means bragging rights among Florida Atlantic players

In the SFCBL, South Florida Collegiate Baseball League, Owls of a feather compete together.

That’s the summer vibe for a handful of Florida Atlantic players who are competing with each other for the SFCBL title the ultimate prize that comes with it.

“I would like to hold bragging rights over my other teammates,” said FAU infielder Jared DeSantolo, who plays for the North Division leading Palm Beach Diamond Ducks.

Most of the 2020 FAU roster has been spread out throughout the league.


DeSantolo has company within the Diamond Ducks in pitchers Jackson Vescelus and Adrien Reese, who pitched four shutout innings against the Boyton Beach Buccaneers on Tuesday while striking out seven. The Phipps Park Barracudas (pitcher Michael Schumer, infielder Cade Parker and outfielder Victor Castillo) is tied with the Diamond Ducks with having the most Owls players.

The South Division leading West Boca Snappers have two Owls in catcher Nick Toney and shortstop Wilfredo Alvarez. The Fort Lauderdale Knights (outfielder Mitch Hartiga), the Delray Beach Lightning (outfielder Jackson Wenstorm), the Florida Pokers (pitcher Dante Visconti) and the Pompano Beach Clippers (infielder BJ Murray) each have one Owl.

The Buccaneers have three incoming FAU freshmen on their team. Chief among the trio is infielder Nolan Schanuel, who went 2-for-3 against the Diamond Ducks to raise his batting average to .300.

“It’s exciting to watch the kids we got coming in and what they can do,” DeSantolo said. “It’s good to get to know them before we get to school.”

The stories that come from playing against each other have been bountiful. A game between the Pokers and Barracudas pitted roommates Visconti, Parker and Castillo against each other.

“[Visconti] struck me out the first time and teased me for a whole week and then I told him the next time I faced him I was going to get a hit and the next week he through against me and I got a hit. We laughed about it for a while,” Castillo said. “We give him a hard time because he plays like he’s the best guy out there but we love it. He competed and makes us compete.”

“We have fun when we meet each other outside of the game,” Parker said. “We talk about our competition and it’s fun to get a couple hits off your buddy.”

“I actually faced my roommate Jared DeSantolo the other day and drilled him on my last pitch,” Hartigan said. “It’s interesting that we get to compete against each other.”

FAU Baseball in 2020

DeSantolo finds it a little weird to go from competing with FAU teammates to against them in the same year but it’s not something he’s no used to.

“We’re used to it because we do it in intersquads almost every day in the fall,” DeSantolo said, “so it kind of gets back to that feel of fall ball.

The Owls finished the 2019 season 41-21 in the Athens Regional. The Owls were 10-6 before the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. DeSantolo and other players are appreciative about getting to play during this time of crisis. The summer season doesn’t make up for the lost spring.

“Nothing makes up for losing basically a whole year of college ball,” DeSantolo said. “But they gave us back our eligibility back, which is cool. I’m excited for next year. I think we’re going to have a really good team, even better than last year.”

Summer Ball bridges the gap to CJ Dearman’s next opportunity

CJ Dearman was supposed to have his senior day at Florida International University.

He was supposed to take the mound one last time at FIU Baseball Stadium in May, strike someone out, and ride off into the sunset, possibly on a bus somewhere in the minor leagues.

Instead, the pitcher’s senior season was cut off shortly due to the COVID-19 viral outbreak. Now, Dearman’s senior day will have to come next year at St. Thomas University in Miami.

“Originally I was planning on just graduating from FIU with my bachelors,” Dearman said. “However with the epidemic going on and me being gifted another year to play, I definitely wanted to take advantage. Also. St Thomas was willing to give me an opportunity to attend grad school and play on a very good team. Two of my best friends from FIU are also going with me so it just seemed like an ideal choice.”

CJ Dearman at FIU

Dearman was primarily a relief pitcher at FIU, posting a 3.41 ERA in 24 career appearances with one save and 15 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched. At the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League, he is a starting pitcher for the Pompano Beach Clippers. He’s posted a 1.68 ERA in three starts with 12 strikeouts in 10.2 innings.

One interesting component of the summer league is taking on former teammates. A handful of Dearman’s FIU teammates are in the SFCBL but none of them play for the Clippers. Dearman’s introduction to the 2020 SFCBL season was versus a former teammate. He took on West Boca Snappers’ second baseman Derek Cartaya, who has a .305 career bating average in four years at FIU.

“To play against my former teammates is an absolute blast,” Dearman said. “It makes you bring the best out of yourself because no one wants to lose to their friend. We look forward to those games because no matter what. It’s always a lot more fun, especially when you’re striking your friends out.”

As great it is to be one of the few playing baseball at a time where the enigmatic epidemic hangs over the nation like a tropical storm hovers over Florida, Dearman says it doesn’t make up for the lost spring.

“It’s just because it’s not the same,” Dearman said. “Like for summer, I didn’t grind and do those tough 6 a.m. workouts with those guys. So I don’t know what I’m getting into. Also, I don’t get to go to the cool cities around the U.S. when I play summer ball as opposed to when I was at FIU.

“So it doesn’t really make up for it but it does give me that same fun feeling of playing the game I love.”

Villanova’s Jeff Manto reinvents himself at South Florida summer league

For players like Villanova’s Jeff Manto, the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League serves as a proving ground for reinvention.

Manto has largely been a backup infielder with the Wildcats, batting .102 in 52 career games and 32 starts. Despite batting .150 in six games in his shortened junior season, he slugged his first two career home runs, showing potential for power.

This summer, Manto is batting .324 in 16 games for the Delray Beach Lightning, exclusively as a catcher. He batted .202 the previous summer with the Lightning, trying to incorporate the new position while mainly patrolling the hot corner and second base. 

“I worked on it a little last summer but this summer is the first time I’m strictly catching,” Manto said.

Jeff Manto, the Catcher

The position change in search for a rare opportunity to crack the starting lineup may have led to Manto’s breakout. His junior season was cut short before the potential was realized. He started all six of the games he played and each of his three hits led to an RBI. His two home runs came during the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte. The first homer came against Eastern Michigan and the other against Western Michigan. 

The Wildcats were 5-1 during Manto’s starts (9-5 overall) and the Lightning are second in the league in wins with 12, tied with the Palm Beach Diamond Ducks for the top spot in the North Division Standings. To Manto, summer ball doesn’t make up for his lost spring season but the rare opportunity to play at a time where everyone else is reeling from the pandemic is still something he doesn’t take for granted.

“Obviously the spring season is more competitive,” Manto said. “There’s a chance to win a Big East championship, go to the regionals and stuff like that but this is awesome. I’m really grateful to be a part of this. A lot of kids aren’t playing right now and I am. There’s a waiting list for this league so whatever it takes.”

It helps for Manto to have players in the SFCBL coming from the same area he’s from. There are a handful of players from Eastern Pennsylvania schools in the league. He has a teammate with the Lightning from Lafayette College. One of the catchers with the Florida Pokers, another playoff contending team, plays at the University of Pennsylvania. Lehigh University sent four players to the SFCBL. It’s lead to moments of bonding, whether it’s in the weight room or hotel.

“It’s always cool to have someone that’s going through the same thing as you are,” Manto said, “especially coming down here in Florida. It’s a whole different culture playing baseball.”

Like Father, Like Son

Manto originally entered Villanova as a third baseman just like his father. Manto’s dad played in the big leagues for nine years with eight different teams, three of which went to the Wold Series. The senior Manto played college ball at Temple before being drafted by the California Angels in 1985. Safe to say the father-son dynamic provides a parallel path. 

“Being around baseball my entire life, I loved it right away. So he definitely influenced me in the beginning,” Manto said. “I do want to follow in his footsteps and obviously play play professional baseball later on in life.”

It’s one thing to play in front of your father with a strong sense of desire and pressure to impress. It’s another when your father was a pro in the sport he’s watching you play. Unlike the Florida Collegiate Summer League in central Florida, the SFCBL allows fans to come to the games, so long as they bring their own seat. Which means Jeff Manto can continue playing in front of his father this year despite it potentially not being possible due to the viral outbreak erasing college sports in the spring.

“Sometimes it gets a little nerve racking because you want to do well in front of him, try to live up to expectations and being like him,” Manto said. “When I got used to it and just do my own thing, it’s pretty awesome to have him by.”

The SFCBL season runs through this month with the playoffs following the final regular season game on July 30.